by Richard McLaughlin, YCBA President
At our last club meeting in March, a writer from a local newspaper approached me with a few questions about our organization for an upcoming article. One of which was regarding how many hives are managed by our members in York County. Since the YCBA (York County Beekeepers Association ) didn’t have that number in its membership database, I thought it would be a good idea to poll the group and get an actual count from our beekeepers. The question went out to the YCBA Google Group, creating the 2011 YCBA Hive Census.
As many of our beekeepers began responding, some also included reasons for their winter losses. The winter kills were reported as being due to starvation, small clusters, varroa-related issues, and failed nuc overwintering attempts. Some beekeepers won’t know for sure until they get into and inspect their hives this spring. Forty-eight percent of our 100+ membership has written in and reported a total of 216 hives going into winter, with 52 hives lost, resulting in 167 hives coming out of the winter. We are happy to report that a handful of the hives coming out of the winter are successfully overwintered nucleus colonies!
Our members keep an average of 3.7 hives, with a maximum of 24 and a minimum of 1, though the YCBA indeed has some new members without hives yet, who are planning their first ones for this year or next. Many members have plans to replace or augment their apiaries with packages, nucs, or splits. Add to that a healthy crop of new beekeepers planning to start their very first hives, and we can anticipate 79 new hives to be set-up in York County this spring. This is a 12.3% increase over the number of hives last fall. You might be wondering how these new hives will be set-up. Of the 79 new hives, 49% will be packages, 27% will be nucs, and the remaining 24% are hopeful splits. With spring in the air and hopes high for the new season, the number of hives managed in York County by the YCBA membership could become 246.
Mother Nature was tough on our bees last fall, and although winter kills hover around 24%, all of our beekeepers remain excited for spring and optimistic about another season of beekeeping. A special thank you goes out to all our YCBA members who responded to the census, especially those who travelled long distances to check on their York County hives, and especially Joanne who braved the snow on her crutches!
Any member who wasn’t able to report prior to the deadline for this article, and would like to contribute, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will continue collecting data throughout the spring and all year long. Thank you!